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"They call me 'Boom Boom' Mancini, 'cause that's what it sounds like when I hit you. (jab) Boom. (jab) Boom. (pause, right hook) Mancini."

--unknown comedian

"The Pride of Youngstown, Ohio", Raymond Michael "Boom Boom" Mancini, was born on March 4, 1961 to Lenny and Ellen Mancini. Even as a young boy, he idolized his father, and wanted to follow in his footsteps. Lenny Mancini was a lightweight boxer in the 1940s, who had hopes of being a world champion. Unfortunately, he was injured during World War II, and although he tried to go back to boxing, his injuries kept the championship out of his grasp.

Ray started training while still fairly young, and quickly rose through the amateur ranks, going 43-7 with 23 KOs. His first professional match, lightweight like his father, came when he was just 18, knocking out Phil Bowen in the first round on October 18, 1979. He soon caught the eye of the American networks, and his career was to be featured heavily on television.

Ray became known for his "whirlwind" fighting style, concentrating far more on offense than defense. The precise origin of his nickname is unclear (one source even says it may have been his father's nickname), but the meaning is understandable: Ray would go into the ring, and "boom boom", his opponents were knocked out. Over the next two years, Ray would do just that, winning his next 19 battles, 14 by KO and most of those in the first two rounds.

Mancini's first shot at the title came almost two years to the day after his professional debut. On October 3, 1981, Mancini fought Alexis Arguello for the WBC Lightweight title. Ray managed to endure 14 rounds of punishment, but was finally KOed by Arguello. Mancini's reputation was helped considerably by the fight, since (as always) he went straight at his opponent, punching non-stop. His reputation was further improved when, a mere seven weeks after the loss, Ray was back in the ring, knocking Manuel Adeboy out in two rounds.

Ray challenged the title again in 1982 in Las Vegas. His opponent, Art Frias, couldn't withstand Mancini's onslaught, and went down in the first round. Mancini was recorded as throwing 33 punches in 22 seconds during the fight. Ray finally won the title that his father could not, and later claimed it was the proudest moment of his life when he heard his father praise him to a reporter. (Supposedly, Mancini also narrowly avoided assassination before the fight, and trained under police surveillance.)

Mancini's most discussed fight came six months later. Again in Vegas; this time against Duk Koo Kim, hailed as the "Korean Mancini". Mancini and Kim whaled at each other for 14 rounds, but Mancini had the advantage of speed, and Kim was not in optimal shape, having had to lose several pounds for the fight, and suffering from dehydration. Ray knocked Duk Koo down in the 14th round. Kim managed to get back to his feet, but the fight was stopped and Mancini declared the winner (by KO). However, minutes after the fight, Kim collapsed again and fell into a coma. Emergency surgery was performed, but Kim died five days later, never waking from his coma. Mancini blamed himself for the death, and took some time off from boxing. The fight had further consequences. Studies showed that boxers take the most damage after the 12th round, and the WBA shortened their matches accordingly from the previous limit of 15. It also became policy to perform more complete physical examinations of the fighters before each bout. Unfortunately, the fight also claimed two more lives: the referee committed suicide in February 1983, and Kim's mother also commited suicide that June. It was later revealed that Kim had a sign taped to the mirror in his hotel room, saying "kill or be killed".

Mancini's next two fights seemed lackluster. His first battle (a mere two months after the bout with Kim) went the full 10 rounds; Mancini won by decision, but still seemed shaken, not fighting in his usual all-out style. He defended his title again in September of 1983 with a 9th-round knockout, but still didn't seem himself.

The beginning of 1984, however, saw Mancini in what seemed to be top form. His opponent was Bobby Chacon, a Mexican boxer who was twice world champion. Mancini pummeled the other fighter, and took him down in three rounds.

That was, unfortunately, Mancini's last win. He lost the title that June to Livingstone Bramble, knocked out in the 14th round. Ray still had some spirit in him, though: during his February rematch against Bramble, he yelled "If you stop it, i'll kill ya!" to referee Mills Lane, when the ref threatened to stop the fight. Mancini lost the fight, by a very close decision. He took on Hector "Macho" Camacho in 1988 for the WBO Junior Welterweight title, but Mancini again lost by decision. Ray's last fight was his worst ever, getting knocked out in the 7th by Greg Haugen in 1992. Ray hung up his gloves for good in 1993, leaving behind a total professional record of 29-5 with 23 KOs.

Unsurprisingly for one with so much energy, this was not the end for "Boom Boom" Mancini. He started acting in the mid-1980s, and threw himself fully into it after his retirement from boxing. He also started producing in 2001, making the movie "Turn Of Faith".

In 2002, Mancini visited Korea, in support of a film about Duk Koo Kim. He was surprised to find that the Koreans revered him as a hero, feeling that Kim died as a warrior, who died honorably for something he believed in.

Ray Mancini is currently living comfortably in California with, at the very least, his children. He saved most of his money from boxing, and is still peripherally involved with the sport, keeping his eye on promising boxers. He is currently producing another movie, "Cigar Games", and owns a cigar company. He still remains very down-to-earth, considering himself "blessed" and lucky to have achieved what he did.


NOTE:

The late Warren Zevon immortalized Mancini's career on his 1987 album Sentimental Hygiene, with the song "'Boom Boom' Mancini"; this is easily the best song about a specific boxer that isn't eleven minutes long. It touches on the highlights of Mancini's career; this writeup was intended in part to flesh out the song. The "hypocrite judgements" Zevon refers to are likely the WBA's decision to shorten their fights and inspect the fighters, actions which would likely have prevented Kim's death.

SOURCES:
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Ray-Mancini
http://www.boxingpress.de/records/RMANCINI.HTM
http://www.allamericanspeakers.com/speakerbio/Ray_BoomBoomMancini.php
http://www.urbanfilmpremiere.com/interview_lead_boom.asp
http://members.tripod.com/~bxhof/mancini.html
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0541509/
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Duk-Koo-Kim

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